When bad things happen to good dogs….

November 21, 2009

…Life stops for the good dog’s owner.  I’m an artist and this is my busy season. The galleries and shops that sell my work need me to produce new work for their customers who want to purchase beautiful gifts.  My annual studio sale is coming up which adds to the chaos and mayhem in the studio this time of year.  But this is about my dog…I’ve pondered whether or not to publish this post and decided yes to share my story with you, my gardening friends, because this can happen to anyone…

My busy season.  Usually I’m in the studio up to 12 hours a day this time of year but make time to take my inquisitive dog, Treasure, a Belgian Tervuren out for a walk. We walk anywhere from a quick mile to three miles. Sometimes we hike down the mountain, but last Sunday we took a medium, 2 mile walk. Or at least that was my plan.

Just under one mile away from home a pit bull mix came sauntering out of a field. Always leery of loose dogs approaching us, I backed up but didn’t want to appear nervous or afraid and let them sniff noses. Everything seemed fine but before I could blink, the pit mix grabbed Treasure! In shock and horror, with both Treasure and I screaming, I tried pulling my dog away while kicking and pushing the aggressive dog off.  It would not stop or let go.  Trying to keep my brain calm and THINK what to do I recalled reading somewhere to release my leash if an attack like this ever happened, so I did.

Screaming at the top of my lungs I realized no one could hear me and although there is usually debris laying about on the road there was nothing to pick up to use as a weapon. All I could do was continue kicking at the dog until I saw a large tree limb as we moved up the road during the attack. Managing to break off a small branch it was no better a weapon than my feet or fists. Then suddenly the attack stopped but the dog stood there and I feared he would start up again, so I continued screaming at him to get away and shook the stick as menacingly as I could muster.

Finally a car came around the corner, my neighbor Chris as it turned out.  She began yelling at the dog and honking her horn until it finally disappeared back into the field. I quickly checked Treasure’s injuries, grabbed my treat bag & leash from the road & anxious to get home gratefully accepted a ride from Chris.

Treasure’s injuries were too significant to treat at home, so I finally found an available veterinarian on a Sunday afternoon and rushed my dog down the mountain and up to Mt Hood.  Dr. Kathy was wonderful while treating Treasure, reassuring, methodical and thorough. Bandaged and medicated we arrived back home and spent a very long night as Treasure wouldn’t or couldn’t sit or lay down for long without yelping in pain, so stood almost the entire night.  She has a large gash on her side, multiple punctures and severe bruising.  We spent the next day and night trying to keep her quiet and resting, giving pain medication to keep her comfortable.  Monday night I realized the bandage was possibly pulling her hair, keeping her from lying down, so we went to see our regular vet to remove the bandage and check progress that the injuries were healing.

Treasure is now Sleeping Beauty with the bandage that had covered her large gash removed.  Dr. Kerry advised the best treatment plan was hydrotherapy!  A brief shower twice a day to gently wash away any bacteria & keep debris out.  This along with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and pain medications is speeding her recovery process.

The police report and letter sent to the dog’s owner will say ‘potentially dangerous dog’ and list the address. It will remain in that status until/unless it bites a person. Then it’ll be listed as a ‘dangerous dog’ & the owner will have to contain it in such a way that it cannot dig out; carry a huge insurance policy and keep it muzzled. If it bites other dogs it will still just be listed as ‘potentially dangerous’.  I hope and pray it never bites another but fear it will.

Needless to say, my life and work has stopped for a moment while I tend to Treasure and her needs.  Besides the physical mending she is glued to my side, moving with me when I leave for any other room in the house.  Occasionally a routine noise causes her to shake uncontrollably.  As she recovers from the physical injuries I’ll look for ways to reassure and help her over the emotional trauma as well.

Questions:   Is danger lurking everywhere & I simply never noticed?  Are my safe rural walks and hikes tainted forevermore?  Will Treasure greet friendly dogs as enthusiastically as before?  And how will I know that it’s a friendly dog?  To post or not post since this is not about my garden?

Lesson: Carry mace and cell phone always on our walks!  I suggest you do too.

Final notes:  As of this Saturday morning posting, Treasure is ready to play again.  We are still trying to keep her quiet as the gash in her side isn’t healed yet (it looks a lot better), but she is raring to go.  I’m teaching her new tricks and playing thinking games and hide and seek games with her instead of run, chase, and fetch games.  I slowly walk her up to the mailbox and we roam the back fenced yard.  Yesterday we walked as far as the neighbor’s driveway but it was not planned and I felt a bit nervous about not having mace in my hand.

I’m thankful it wasn’t worse…..and thankful you stopped by to read about Treasure instead of my garden this time.  Please take care on your journeys out…be aware of potentially dangerous dogs…  Until next time……


19 Responses to “When bad things happen to good dogs….”

  1. Barbara Says:

    What an awful story! So glad that Treasure is getting better. I had a similar but much less severe experience with my dog, Milo. The owner was actually talking with someone else when the dog – not on a lease – attacked Milo. We got them separated pretty quickly and Milo was only shook up – not hurt. The owner said the dog never did that before – didn’t make me feel any better. Enjoy your time with Treasure – she looks like a wonderful dog.

  2. I finally got caught up with your blog and wish you had time to post more often. Love your views and your flowers.

    Glad Treasure is doing better. She’s really pretty. And I hate it when the dogs are injured on Sunday because it’s so hard to find a vet (and I don’t even have to drive off the mountain).

    For other dog owners reading this post, search the Web for instructions on how to properly pick up a dog with a back injury. Stick your arms out like a forklift and slide under their chest and belly and let them dangle (head up). Or use a towel/blanket for a large dog. One of our dogs hurt his back a couple of weeks ago, and we could’ve gotten him to the vet more quickly if we’d known how to lift him properly.

  3. Holly Says:

    First, let me say that I am not familiar with Treasure’s breed but am struck with how beautiful she is.

    Next, Treasure is most aptly named. And, she is wonderful…I can feel her energy. Simple, kind, loving, and sweet.

    Yes, we take our world being orderly and predictable for granted. And, we learn the hard way that it can change in a heart beat.

    I am so glad that you both are all right. I’m struck by how the determiner of whether a dog is listed as dangerous hinges on what it bites rather than the notion that it bites unprovoked at all.

    I’m also very, very sad that it was a pit bull that bit and attacked. I know them to be loyal and steadfast dogs, but left unattended, they will see their world on their terms. You were possibly in that dog’s space. With no Alpha there to tell it otherwise, it did what it has been bred to do.

    Your blog is about the garden of your life, not just the earth that you plant in, so I am very very glad you shared this story here.

    Last, I am a Reiki Master Teacher and you and Treasure are now on my distance Reiki list. Treasure will heal, and the miraculous way their skin seems to mend without scars will show you this in due time. But, I am more concerned about you. Treasure will learn to be cautious but not fearful of things, only so long as you show her the same energy. You must let go of your fear to help your Treasure heal. Can you do it?

    Love, Light, & Reiki Energy to both. Let me know how things are going.

  4. lynn Says:

    So glad you shared this story, Linda. As a dog owner/lover, this is our worst nightmare! When I was leash training Bandit (5 yrs.ago), my neighbor was walking her dog…a daschund. Two little dogs, meeting for the first time and sniffing each other out. Who could imagine what her dog did next in a split second. Grabbed Bandit’s face in his jaw and wouldn’t let go! WTF!! With both of us screaming and pulling on leashes, those seconds felt like an eternity! And get this…afterwards, she informs me that yeah, her dog is not friendly with other dogs. A fact she should have pointed out..don’ you think!

    Anyway, I’m glad that Treasure is recovering and the ordeal is behind you. Pit Bulls always have that reputation preceding them…but the attacks are so common.

    Needless to say, we don’t have playdates. Treasure will be ok with future dogs…it’s the owner that anticipates trouble so stay calm 😉

    And on a side note, good luck with your hectic studio hours and a successful sales season, Linda!

  5. Thanks so much everyone for your kind comments. I am so appreciative of hearing your stories and thankful for your prayers & thoughts. I know we’ll recover…I should say I will recover as Treasure is back to her playful self, begging for the frisbee and desperate for a long walk or hike. She still has one open wound so I am vigilantly playing quiet games with her, but I know that can’t last much longer, lol!

  6. ellen abbott Says:

    I’m glad Treasure wasn’t more seriously injured.

  7. Teresa Says:

    Wow, what a story. I was so glad to hear she was okay. I was so afraid the ending would be different. The only good news is that it was her and not you. What if you were alone instead of walking the dog? Dogs like that shouldn’t be allowed to run free ever. I am always amazed at anyone who would keep a dog that had done something like that. Thank goodness you were able to get her away from it in time. Your dog is absolutely beautiful. I have never heard of that breed. I hope you can make up for your lost time, but taking care of her had to be a priority. I don’t think gardeners ever mind good advice. I already keep a cell phone on me when I take my dog out but the mace idea hadn’t occured to me. Makes a lot of sense for many different things that could happen. Thanks for the good advice and I hope Treasure is back to her old self again. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Our vet is thrilled with Treasure’s one week check up. The big gash is now a small still open sore but healing very well. The twice a day hydrotherapy showers really made the healing process happen faster. We’re to put neosporin on the wound to keep it from itching as it shrinks even smaller. All the other punctures are now scabs. We can let her frolic, but still no chasing frisbees at top speeds.

    Thanks so much for all the kind words, thoughts, prayers, and shared experiences, here & via other avenues. I truly hope our misadventure helps someone else. We haven’t located any mace yet, in our small town. Rumor says it’s illegal, yet our vet suggested the local sporting goods store.

    I know I’ll feel safer for now if I have protection in my pocket. I know I’ll let go of my uneasiness eventually. I live in a part of the country where cougars, lynx, coyotes and bear roam and my heart races with excitement, not fear when I witness their power and majesty. Not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable again when I see any pit bull. Only time will tell……

  9. Candace Says:

    Linda, I’m so sorry about Treasure and relieved that she is almost better. How horrifying. My neighbor has a pit bull that everyone else dreads. It has killed one of his own cats and attacked his other dogs but he keeps insisting it was just playing. I feel bad hating a whole breed but I guess I pretty much do. It’s so sad when something invades what we thought was our perfect world and makes us feel unsafe.

  10. Thanks Candace, take care around that neighbor!

  11. Treasure is a beautiful dog. I am glad she is recovering nicely. It’s terrible this other dog was allowed to roam freely. I think the owner should be required to pay a hefty fine and your vet bills. I think carrying mace is a great idea. However, truly, pitt bulls are not all aggressive. My son is “babysitting” a pitt bull while her owner is away. She is one of the sweetest tempered dogs I have ever met, loving toward humans and other animals. Unlike the breeder of many pitt bulls, her breeder deliberately bred good tempered dogs, so they would make good pets, not fighters. It is a shame that any animal is bred or trained to be dangerous.

  12. I am so shocked and sorry to hear your story…I must add that a similar incident happened to my wonderful aunt Rita and their family dog. She valiantly tried to defend her pet and ended up falling in such a way that her leg was broken in three places it took several years for her leg to recover and she will never fully recover from such a severe and horrible break…It was awful and I don’t think the neighbor really apologized…I don’t know how things are going now…but I’m sure they have moved forward…
    I hope your dog is feeling better now and you too-

  13. Kim Waltz Says:

    Your dog is BEAUTIFUL.

  14. Janet Says:

    Came here by way of Facebook and Thanksfor2day. Many many years ago we had a beagle who loved to roam, walked to school with us and tracked who knows what. My younger sister witnessed a large German Shepherd do the same thing as that pitbull did to your dog. What a traumatic experience for a kindergartener. He survived but had lots of healing to deal with– three or four puncture wounds in his shoulder…just below his neck.
    Glad to hear your beautiful dog is on the mend.

  15. I so appreciate all your comments and thank those of you who shared a similar experience. Treasure is back to her normal self as am I (ok, almost, lol!) We’ve only had time for one long walk along the route that takes me in front of the pit bull’s house & we didn’t see him. I have to admit I felt a bit anxious. We’re about to mail off our vet bills to the owner and hope he pays.

  16. Desiree Says:

    Our cat of 12 years was attacked in our front yard by a neighbors pit bull about the same time as your dog in November. The last picture I have of her was in my garden bed in late summer. I was going to post the picture and write about her life but the awful tortured experience she went through hurts my soul to much to think about. She is no longer with us. I am so glad your dog is doing well. My thoughts were exactly the same as your questions and lessons.

  17. I’m so sorry Desiree. I know I would’ve been devastated had I lost Treasure. How does one recover from a horrific experience is another question ~ I wish you a strong recovery.

  18. Desiree Says:

    What a beautiful dog Treasure is. I’m late in reading this post but hope Treasure has healed well.

  19. Thank you Desiree, yes Treasure is completely healed and back to her joyful antics. I’m still nervous when walking by that place, but have mace in hand now for protection.

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